Cats have been known for their love-hate relationship with water. But when it comes to fish, cats can’t help but go gaga over it. Since cats aren’t fond of swimming, why do cats like fish, and when did their love for fish come about?
If you’re among the many cat lovers who have a cat craving fish meals every day, you probably have the same questions.
Well, it’s a good thing Feline Living is here to give you everything you need to know about cats, their crazy addiction to fish included.
Why Do Cats Like Fish?
Do cats hunt fish? No, but there are a few exceptions.
If you’re referring to surviving wildcats, then the answer is yes. Extant wild cats like the fishing cat, aka “Prionailurus viverrinus,” and the flat-headed cat known as “Prionailurus planiceps” are known for their exceptional fishing skills and would even dive into deep waters to catch prey. Your pet cat, however, isn’t like them.
Fish isn’t something that domesticated cats’ ancestors would hunt, back in the day, since cats were land dwellers who were used to living in dry, desert-like places.
Cats’ usual victims are birds and other small mammals. Given cats’ limited exposure to water, cat owners can’t help but wonder – why do cats like fish?
You know what? There are three good reasons why your cats love fish so much. Here they are:
Cats Find The Smell Of Fish Tasty
The strong smell of fish might reek and smell putrid for humans – but not for cats. Most cats love fish because they find the smell of fish very appealing and mighty tasty and yummy.
Cats Are Obligate Carnivores
Carnivorous animals, like cats, will always find protein-rich organisms appetizing. Simply put, cats like fish because cats eat primarily meat. And since fish is loaded with protein, cats (being the obligate carnivores they are) can’t help but enjoy it.
Besides its high protein content, fish also contains taurine – another compound that cats find enticing. This organic compound can be found in the fish’s tissues, including the muscle, liver, and heart.
Cats Are Opportunistic Feeders
Cats might be born predators with excellent hunting skills. Still, like other wild cats (think jaguars and leopards), cats are opportunistic feeders who can adapt to the environment and will change their eating habits when the “opportunity” calls.
As you all know, domestic cats don’t really hunt for fish since most cats hate water. However, it is believed that ancient Egyptians used fish to tempt cats into following them into their homes. Even if fish is not part of a cat’s natural diet, it was something that was readily available.
Since then, eating fish has become natural to cats. After all, it’s easier to take the lazy route and just eat what is served, especially when your cat’s sense says it’s actually good.
Is Fish Good For Cats?
The short answer is Yes. Fish is good for cats as long as it’s given in MODERATION.
So, if you’re planning to give your cat fish, go ahead. There are a few good reasons why fish is a common cat food ingredient.
Besides its appealing smell, it also provides a couple of health benefits and nutrients your cat’s body needs. This includes the following:
Rich in Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Besides its high protein content, which helps maintain pH balance, boost energy, and build tissues, fish is also brimming with omega 3 fatty acids.
Fatty acids are known for its anti-inflammatory property, relieving itching and alleviating joint pain. It also supports brain, heart, and nerve function and helps lower the risk of arthritis, various skin conditions, inflammatory bowel disease, and cognitive issues.
Excellent Source Of Taurine
As mentioned, fish contains a chock-full of taurine. Most mammals manufacture taurine on their own using other amino acids. On the other hand, unlike humans, cats can’t.
Taurine is an essential amino acid needed by cats’ bodies to stay healthy, develop a strong immune system, and maintain normal digestion, vision, heart function, and pregnancy. This is why foods rich in taurine (like fish) have to be added to your cat’s diet once in a while.
How Is Fish Bad For Cats?
Why do cats like fish? It’s tasty, appealing, and, at the same time, healthy for cats. Besides that, many cats eat fish because it’s readily available.
However, despite all the good stuff that fish offers, giving your cat fish regularly is not highly recommended. Why? Despite containing tons of protein, amino acids, and taurine, fish does not include all the essential vitamins and minerals that your cat’s body requires.
Besides that, eating fish may also put your cat at risk. Here are some (if not all) of the dangers your cat faces when eating the wrong kind or too much fish:
Presence Of Mercury & Other Toxins
Yes, you read it right. Some fish, especially those on top of the food chain (think salmon and tuna), may contain high levels of heavy metals (like mercury) and other toxins. Even if your cat’s digestive system is far different from humans, the effects of mercury on cats can also be fatal.
May Cause Thiamine Deficiency
Raw fish contains an enzyme that destroys thiamine (vitamin B1) – an important vitamin for your cats—as such, feeding this to your cat may lead to thiamine deficiency. The same applies if you give your cat too much fish (regardless if it’s raw or cooked fish).
Thiamine deficiency is a condition that attacks a cat’s nervous system. It can lead to convulsions and cause severe neurological problems.
May Trigger An Allergic Reaction
The most common cause of food allergies in cats include chicken, dairy products, beef, and fish. Yes, fish!
So, if your cat is allergic to fish, you better remove any cat food with fish from your cats’ diet. But how do you know if your cat is allergic to fish? A cat that is allergic to fish may show one or more of these allergic reactions:
- Excessive scratching
- Hair loss
May Result In Other Diseases
Besides thiamine deficiency, letting your cat eat fish excessively may also result in other health problems. This includes the following:
Urinary Tract Infection
Fish is also known for its high magnesium content. Unfortunately, feline urinary tract infections are often linked to increased magnesium intake.
A 2016 research suggests that feeding your cat fish-flavored foods increases your cat’s chances of developing feline hyperthyroidism. Hyperthyroidism is among the most common hormonal diseases in cats. Its symptoms include:
- Weight loss
- Increased appetite
- Excessive urination
Tips On How To Feed Fish To Your Cats
If your cat likes fish and isn’t allergic to it, then it might be alright for you to give your cat an occasional fish treat. However, there are a couple of pointers you need to take note of to avoid any unfortunate events.
Avoid feeding your cat raw fish. Aside from containing thiamine-destroying enzymes, raw fish may also contain bacteria that can cause food poisoning.
Keep it plain and simple. It’s best to give your cat boiled, baked, or grilled fish, minus any seasoning or additives. Fish fingers, smoked fish, or breaded fish are best kept out of your cat’s reach. These are either too salty or too oily for your cat.
Serve cat-friendly canned fish. Most canned fish for human consumption contain too much oil and lacks taurine. Those made for cats may also be high in sodium. The next time you go shopping for canned fish, choose the ones brined in water with less salt.
Give small portions of fish. Remember that fish should be given in moderation and only as an occasional treat. How much fish is too much? Feeding your cat fish daily is a no-no. Fish should only be given a couple of times a week (think twice or thrice).
Types Of Fish That Your Cat Can Eat
Popular fish-flavored foods for cats include tuna and salmon. However, even if it’s okay to let your cats eat canned tuna or salmon every now and then because of their high omega-3 fatty acids levels, these fish choices run the risk of containing higher amounts of mercury.
To avoid this, you might find smaller fish types a better option for your cat. This includes flounder, anchovies, cod, and halibut.
Food For Thought
Yes, cats hate water. But this does not stop them from eating fish. Good thing, fish offers a couple of benefits.
However, keep in mind that this type of food should only be given in moderation. And most importantly, it’s best to get your vet’s expert advice.
At the end of the day, your vet knows best. Fish might taste good and smell great for cats, but if your cat is allergic or has UTI or kidney disease. If this is the case, your cat is better off munching other kinds of food.
DIY Gourmet Kitty Salmon Patties
- 1 Wild Caught Salmon Filet (4 oz)
- 2 large Pasture Raised Organic Eggs
- 1/4 Organic Oats
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
- Place salmon on a foil lined baking sheet and cook for about 10 minutes or until minimum internal temperature reaches 145 degrees fahrenheit. Place in refrigerator to cool.
- While salmon is cooling, place oats in a food processor and grind into a fine powder.
- Remove cooled salmon and flake apart with a fork.
- In a mixing bowl, combine eggs, oat flour, and salmon meat.
- Portion mixture into into small patties.
- Place patties on foil lined baking sheet and bake until golden brown in 350 degrees over. About 12-15 minutes.
- Let cool and serve.
Chicken & Tuna Senior Cat Food
- 1 cup Chicken breast cooked
- 1 can Tuna in oil
- 1.5 tbsp Cooked vegetables
- Combine all three ingredients in your blender or food processor.
- Blend until the mixture is smooth.
- Serve to your happy cat!
- Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to three days or the freezer for up to three weeks.
Birthday Cake for Your Cat
- Cooking spray
- 1 Tuna (6 oz can) drained
- 2 tbsp All-purpose flour
- 1 Egg white
- 1/8 tsp Cheddar cheese shredded
- 4 med Shrimps peeled, cooked
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Spray 2 muffin tin cups with cooking spray.
- Combine tuna, flour, egg white, and Cheddar cheese in a bowl.
- Fill prepared muffin cups equally with mixture.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes. Invert onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Garnish cakes with shrimp.
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